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Published on Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Oakville mayor lays out state of the town

Mayor urges efforts to include everyone in success of town

Oakville mayor lays out state of the town
Oakville Mayor Rob Burton
Photo by Graham Paine/Metroland Media
By David Lea, Oakville Beaver

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton praised the work of council while outlining some of the challenges and opportunities that will soon face the community during his 11th annual state of the town address, Monday (Oct. 23).

Burton began by noting that the community’s commitment to the town’s Livable Oakville growth plan is as strong today as it was the day it was created.

“We saw that commitment vividly in the engaged and impassioned statements by residents that we heard right here last month speaking about the Glen Abbey Golf Course decision,” said Burton.

“This passion should encourage us to continue our focus on the four pillars of our livability. First, we control growth to only what fits environmentally and economically and only what protects the character of our stable and existing neighbourhoods.”

On Sept. 27, council voted unanimously to refuse an application by Glen Abbey Golf Club owner ClubLink to build 3,222 residential units, 69,000 square feet of commercial/retail space, and 107,000 square feet of office space at the Glen Abbey site.

Burton emphasized the town would vigorously fight to defend this decision at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

The mayor noted that through the vigilance of the community and council, the rate of the town’s growth has slowed to a more sustainable pace.

He said in the five years before he became mayor, Oakville grew by 21,000, while in the last five years, Oakville has grown by 11,000.

Burton pointed to Bill 139, which is currently before the provincial legislature, as another reason to be hopeful about future growth.

If passed, the bill would terminate the OMB and replace it with a tribunal that would only look at whether a proposed development aligns with the Provincial Planning Act and the municipality’s own official plans.

Burton again pointed to Glen Abbey as an example of how the town is protecting natural and cultural heritage.

On Aug. 21, council voted to issue a notice of intention to designate the entire 229-acre property under the Ontario Heritage Act, citing its significance to the town’s cultural heritage.

Keeping community amenities at pace with the town’s needs is another area Burton said council is excelling at.

“In the past 10 years we have nearly doubled our community facilities from seniors centres to ice rinks to cultural facilities and playing fields,” said Burton.

“This year we have launched additions to that legacy. We took the first steps to creating a new community centre on the former hospital lands in southeast Oakville and adding two more acres of green space there. We also began rebuilding Oakville Arena into a state-of-the-art recreational centre that will open next year.”

Critical infrastructure investments in 2017 included: various road widening projects, grade separations for Burloak and Kerr, the planned addition of 700 more kilometres of pedestrian and cycling facilities, the launch of the Home to Hub transit services, the transfer of the Bronte Outer Harbour to the town, and the Lakeshore Bridge reconstruction, which will be complete in advance of the Santa Claus parade next month.

Burton said the town’s financial outlook is also rosy as council is currently preparing the 10th straight budget that will keep overall tax increases at or below the rate of inflation.

He called Oakville Ontario’s most fiscally healthy municipality.

The future is not without its challenges.

The mayor said one challenge would be making Oakville livable for everyone.

“Next month we will launch our first Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. Oakville has 48 per cent of the Halton residents who live below the low income cut-off as defined by Statistics Canada,” said Burton.

“Oakville and Halton organizations like the Halton Community Foundation, the United Way, the YMCA and our own Halton Community Investment Fund all work together with others to help those who need help to keep up. Last week our community received $12 million for public housing and fighting homelessness from the Province of Ontario.”

Another challenge is ensuring Oakville’s local economy grows and thrives.

He noted an Oakville site is in the running to get Amazon’s HQ2.

Continuing to green the town was listed as another challenge, which is being addressed through a number of initiatives including:

•Launching a new public engagement program to promote tree-planting throughout the town

•Securing surplus lands between Ninth Line and Bayshire Drive

•Securing public ownership of the balance of the Merton Lands

•Converting the town’s transit fleet to electric buses

Council took a step toward the electric bus initiative Monday night by applying for $9 million from the province’s Municipal Greenhouse Gas Challenge Fund.

The money would be used for the integration of eight full electric 40-foot buses into the Oakville Transit fleet.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News




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